Deloitte: Back to School is the Second Biggest Shopping Season, Touches 1 in 4 US Households

What: According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, 50% of all school-related spend in 2018 will be made during the back-to-school season, which will involve 29 million households and about 54 million children.
Why it matters: Deloitte has found that around 20% of the B2S budget is still for grabs. The survey provides important consumer insights that allow marketers to understand the best ways to approach this year's shoppers.

As July draws to a close, more and more households prepare to send children back to school in the fall. According to a survey published recently by Deloitte, this is the second biggest shopping season of the year, which is why marketers need to be ready and not underestimate the challenge. In order to gather data on all the consumer behaviors surrounding the B2S season, Deloitte conducted an online survey between May 31 and June 6, 2018. The survey polled a sample of 1,200 parents of school-aged children. All respondents had at least one child attending school in grades K – 12 this fall. These were the key findings.

Even though in-store shopping prevails, online spending is increasing

Back-to-school spending this year is expected to reach about US $510 per household, as opposed to US $501 last year. Households plan to spend about US $292 in stores, more than double the amount they plan to spend online. The use of laptops, mobile, and social is plateauing, but it is expected to increase as more shoppers decide to buy electronics online.

Customers have clear preferences and behaviors

According to the survey, mass merchants are the top location for intended spend, and price-based retailers keep a high-ranking position after pushing down traditional department and specialty clothing stores. However, parents don't expect to spend much at price-based stores. Income is also an important factor when families decide where to shop: while higher-income shoppers are more likely to visit specialty stores, lower-income consumers expect to visit price-based retailers. Millennials, on the other hand, are less expected to visit department stores and more likely to shop at off-price retailers.

Timing matters

B2S is a long season, and the amount spent is directly related to when families shop. According to the survey results, 62% of parents planned to begin their shopping before August and 68% plan to complete it within a 1-month period of time. However, the longer someone extends their B2S shopping, the more they will likely spend.


Janet Grynberg @grynberg_janet

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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